By Lisa Gault
The introduction of candy-flavored products stands as the most manipulative tactic used by tobacco companies to date. Documents obtained by anti-tobacco interest groups have revealed the direct target placed on youth by this ever-evolving industry. Our duty as Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) is to fight back—to combat this generational attack.
Leon County SWAT is currently undertaking the establishment of a resolution to urge retailers to cease the sale of candy-flavored tobacco products in our area. We have inevitably seen the industry’s influence on youth through printed ads, and glamourized prevalence in music, film, and fashion–we must do everything in our power to make these products intangible to the very generation meant to be conned by them. This particular resolution is the first tier in our ladder towards a tobacco-free future.
How can youth even begin to defend themselves against the strategies of a multi-billion dollar industry? How do we even get our goal to ban candy-flavored tobacco products off of the ground? That is where the leaders of our community come into play. Policy change is the key to protecting our youth. The backing of local decision-makers will empower and enable us to survive this battle. We must petition the support of men and women who represent us on matters that count, leaders who are immersed in the issues plaguing their constituents.
Once our leaders are informed on our goal and our determination to reduce the presence of Big Tobacco’s sweet deception, it is our hope that they will support the worthy endeavors of SWAT. We also hope that PARENTS will begin or continue to educate their children on the importance of not using and becoming addicted to tobacco. 90% of all tobacco users start before the age of 18. It is great to say smoking rates are going down, but it’s sad to say people are still starting before they can legally purchase the product.
Big Tobacco has been luring in young people for far too long, it is time to dedicate ourselves to counteracting. There are barely words to illustrate the inhumanity of marketing products specifically designed to initiate a deadly addiction. However, the progressive efforts of Students Working Against Tobacco and our community leaders will birth a retaliation to ultimately bring an end to Big Tobacco’s dawn of the dead.